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REDUCING CRIME, CHANGING LIVES

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Radical New National Offender Management Service will Reduce Re- ...
Radical New National Offender Management Service will Reduce Re-

offending

Radical reforms to correctional services, designed to cut

re-offending rates and increase rehabilitation and pay-back to the

community, were unveiled today by home secretary David Blunkett.

At the centre of this fundamental overhaul is the creation of a new

body to provide end-to-end management of all offenders, whether they

are serving sentences in prison, the community or both. This radical

rethink in offender management builds on the recommendations made in

the independent review of Correctional Services conducted by Patrick

Carter.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) will bring together

the Prison and Probation Services to ensure that progress made in

prison is followed through in the community and that cutting

re-offending is a top priority for all.

Mr Blunkett said that the creation of the new service is possible

because of major government investment in, and reform of, both the

Prison and Probation Services, which have seen an increase in the

numbers of prison places by 15,000 and increased probation funding by

50 per cent.

Mr Blunkett said:

'This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we

manage offenders, to make sure they pay back the community they have

harmed, to reduce re-offending and to cut crime. As I said two years

ago in my speech to the Prison Service Conference, I am not

interested in reform for reform's sake but in breaking patterns of

crime and creating a virtuous circle of prevention, detection,

punishment and rehabilitation through a reformed police service and

through a modernised criminal justice system and prison and probation

services.

'This radical approach would not be possible without the very

significant progress we have already made in investing in and

improving the performance of the prison and probation services in

recent years. And these i mprovements have been under-pinned and

supported by substantial changes the government has made to the

structures of these organisations and to wider police reform and

reform of the criminal justice system.

'Public protection remains my top priority. Those who commit the most

serious crimes need to be locked up - in some cases for very much

longer than they used to be in the past. But we are also committed to

implementing radical changes that can help rehabilitate offenders and

reintegrate them into the community.'.

Mr Blunkett also announced the start later this month of the first

intermittent custody pilots, where offenders undertake compulsory

community programmes to address their behaviour while spending

weekends or other periods in prison.

The government's plans to reform correctional services are set out in

'Reducing Crime, Changing Lives' published today by the Home Office.

The new NOMS will be set up from June 2004. As well as its overall

remit to reduce re-offending and cut crime it will be responsible

for:

- improving the enforcement and credibilityof community punishments

so that prison is not the first resort for less serious offenders;

- ensuring that both custodial and community punishments make

offenders address their behaviour and offer a path away from crime;

and

- raising educational standards among offenders in order to break

the link between low educational attainment and criminality.

Martin Narey, currently commissioner for correctional services, has

been appointed as chief executive of NOMS, and will be held

explicitly accountable for reducing re-offending. He will begin work

immediately to set up the new organisation.

A national offender manager will report to the chief executive and

manage ten regional offender managers, with directly responsibility

for reducing re-offending. The regional offender managers will be

responsible for reducing crime in the nine English regions and Wales

and will source prison places, community punishment, supervision and

other interventions through contracts with public, private and

voluntary sector providers.

Mr Blunkett added:

'These changes are an assertion of my confidence in those prison and

probation officers who work with offenders in prison and in the

community with such dedication. I believe that the new arrangements

will help make their work even more effective.

'I want to see robust, intensive community programmes replace

ineffective short custodial sentences that also allow us to take

decisive action where breaches take place.'

NOMS' chief executive will sit as an observer on the Sentencing

Guidelines Council, which is chaired by the Lord Chief Justice and

tasked with improving consistency in sentencing across England and

Wales.

Today's announcement follows the review of correctional services

undertaken by Patrick Carter and draws extensively on his

recommendations. His report is also published today alongside

'Reducing Crime, Changing Lives'.

Mr Carter's report also recommends the introduction of a day

fine system where the fine is set as a number of days which can then

be multiplied to take account of an offender's ability to pay. This

would require primary legislation. The government believes there is a

strong case for introducing such a system and although at this stage

there is no commitment to taking it forward the Home Office and the

Department for Constitutional Affairs will explore its viability.

Notes

1. Minister for Correctional Services, Paul Goggins, will chair the

correctional services board to which NOMS will report their progress

and therefore provide ministerial accountability.

2. The Prison Service Agency will end but public sector prisons will

continue to be managed on a national basis reporting to the chief

executive of NOMS. The services currently provided by the National

Probation Service will be integrated in to NOMS.

3. Director general of the Probation Service, Eithne Wallis, will

immediately take up responsibility for the Change Programme with

NMOS, leading the organisational changes. There will be a competition

for an interim replacement as director general of the Probation

Service. Phil Wheatley will remain director general of the Prison

Service.

4. The home secretary addressed the Prison Service Conference on 3

February 2002.

5. Copies of 'Reducing Crime, Changing Lives' are available via the

Home Office website.

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